Food & dining

Just don’t call it jerky

Kalahari Biltong seasoned dried beef.
Robinson Ginsburg
Kalahari Biltong seasoned dried beef.

At first glance, you might mistake the seasoned dried beef of Kalahari Biltong for jerky, but that’s where the resemblance ends. “It’s really clean, pure protein,” says the brand’s cofounder and CEO, Tyler Noyes. “It was Paleo before Paleo was a thing.”

Noyes first tasted biltong during a trip to South Africa, where the traditional cured meat snack is ubiquitous. He was there to compete in an Ironman Triathlon, and then an Ultramarathon in Cape Town six days later. Friend and fellow athlete Brett Johnston, originally from South Africa himself, introduced the snack to Noyes while they traveled. “I pretty much ate close to my body weight in biltong,” says Noyes. It was nothing like the sugar-and-additive-laden jerky back in the States. The friends returned home, and set about making and introducing the centuries-old snack to the Boston area.

Their product ($6.99-$8.99 for a 2.5 ounce pouch) is air-dried like prosciutto, hung for more than two weeks, rather than baked at high heat. Hand-sliced strips of pasture-raised beef, sourced from small family farms in Pennsylvania, are marinated in vinegar, salt, black pepper, mild chile seasoning, and ground coriander seed. Flavors are deeply meaty and altogether addictive, with a surprisingly tender chew.

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Call it delicious. Just don’t call it jerky.

Available at the Spirited Gourmet, 448 Common St., Belmont, 617-489-9463; Pemberton Farms, 2225 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge,
617-491-2244; Brookline Fine Wine & Gourmet,
27 Harvard St., Brookline, 617-734-5400, and at www.eatbiltong.com.

Ellen Bhang can be reached at bytheglass@globe.com.